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Putin’s secret Great Northern getaway grabbed a national reserve’s waterfall

The Dossier Center has released a new investigation featuring what it says is the most detailed aerial footage yet of one of Vladimir Putin’s lavish residences. In a six-and-a-half-minute video titled “Putin’s Secret Vacation Home in Karelia: Putin Stole a Waterfall,” the journalists describe the intricacies of a mansion some 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the Finnish border on the shore of Marjalahti Bay off Lake Ladoga. The subtitle refers to an attraction that was once accessible to the public as part of a national reserve. Today, the waterfall is fenced in on the president’s private compound. A cozy cabana now overlooks the splendid sight.

In 2010, the territory in question belonged to the proprietors of a local tourist camp. According to the Dossier Center, these owners were relieved of their property “in the traditional way” with pressure from state prosecutors. The land then passed to firms owned by long-time Putin friend Yuri Kovalchuk, who’s been described as the president’s “personal banker.” After adding protected lands from the surrounding national reserve (including the aforementioned waterfall), the new owners erected a barbed-wire fence around the perimeter and locked the public out of a 4-square-kilometer (1.5-square-mile) space that’s four times bigger than its officially registered size. The Federal Protective Service now guards the territory, journalists learned.

Putin’s Secret Vacation Home in Karelia: Putin Stole a Waterfall
The Dossier Center

As you’d expect, the president’s secret Karelian compound offers many comforts and splendors, including a waterfront bathhouse, a trout farm, a barn with cows for producing marbled beef, two helicopter pads, and piers for yachts. Journalists say a flat mound appeared near one of the helicopter pads roughly two years ago — probably to host a Pantsir air defense system to protect the president against surprise attacks.

The Dossier Center also notes that billionaire Roman Abramovich owns a mansion just four kilometers (2.5 miles) away. Abramovich’s property was constructed in 2020 and has its own restaurant, bathhouse, helicopter pad, and pier.

A decade earlier, during Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency, the Kremlin auctioned an official residence in the town of Shuyskaya Chupa, on the shore of Lake Onega, roughly 280 kilometers (about 175 miles) to the northeast, selling the property to ​​Severstal owner Alexey Mordashov.

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